Has a manufacturer rep firm failed you in the past? Did you ask yourself the question, why did I hire them in the first place? Unfortunately that is not an uncommon issue.
Rep firms come in many different forms and each has a different corporate mission. Some firms seek to create a lifestyle business for the principle or partners, yet others may want to create a strong sustainable business for growing manufacturing sales. It's so important to conduct your due diligence and research the philosophy of the rep firm’s leadership prior to hiring them in order find your professional comfort level.
There are, however, some common traits among most manufacturer’s representatives. They are independent contractors who develop long-term relationships with their client companies (or "principals") to sell the vendor's products. They do not function under the immediate supervision of the manufacturers they sell for; therefore the relationship is not like that between a boss and employee, but is a business-to-business relationship.
With myriad manufacturer rep firms available to choose from, how do you find the right one for your security company? There are a few characteristics that will usually differentiate a good manufacturer’s rep firm from a bad one. Save yourself time and money by knowing up front what you need in order to build successful relationships with your customers and strategic business partners. Securing the right manufacturer rep firm can help take your company to the next level.
Here are some of the top characteristics a security manufacturer should look for when selecting a rep firm:
Documented Sales Performance – When hiring a manufacturer’s rep firm, the goal is to have them help you find the Holy Grail of clients. The due diligence process should require potential firms to provide you with any sales or business awards they have won, along with a record of documented sales success that firm has enjoyed over a measurable timeframe. Ask them to provide verifiable references from their core manufacturers on past performance. Also be sure to check their references, and do just as thorough a background checks on your potential outsourced sales staff as you would your own employees.
Commitment to Your Business Model – Each manufacturer views and approaches the security market in a unique way. Are you selling to distribution? Do you sell direct to integrators? Do you sell to the end user? Each one of these strategies have validity for different market segments, however, your rep firms’ corporate culture needs to be aligned with your company’s market approach. It is extremely awkward if a rep firm has one of its top manufacturer’s sell direct to the integrator and dealer base, while your product sells through distribution. It’s almost impossible for the rep to gain the trust and respect from distributors due to the conflict in the channel.
Strong Financial Position – A business that you plan to hire long term to represent your solution must be financially secure. This security allows the firm to hire and retain top-quality staff, invest in long-term sales cycles and address your market with long-term strategies. A best practice is to request a full financial statement and a credit check on the rep firm you are considering.
Technical Expertise – In order to succeed, a rep firm needs to be technically savvy and understand the fundamentals of physical security’s new IP-centric landscape. Without this knowledge, the rep will not have the technical skills to deal with evolving technologies and the demands of today’s clients. The fact that IT staffs are more integrally involved in selecting and implementing security solutions requires a higher level of sales acumen.